New Oral Drug for Type 2 Diabetes

A drug that blocks a particular enzyme that affects blood-sugar control has shown early promise in treating type 2 diabetes, according to study findings.

Type 2 diabetes, which usually strikes in adulthood, is marked by poorly controlled blood sugar, or glucose, and arises from the body's inability to properly use the hormone insulin, the body's key blood-sugar regulator. The study of 93 adults in the early stages of type 2 diabetes found that over 4 weeks, the oral drug lowered patients' levels of blood glucose.

The new drug acts by inhibiting an enzyme known as DPP IV, which breaks down other hormones that help control blood glucose.

"This study provides the first evidence that...DPP IV inhibition is feasible for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in humans," Dr. Bo Ahren of Lund University in Malmo, Sweden, and colleagues report in the May issue of Diabetes Care.

In their study, two or three daily doses of a DPP IV inhibitor before meals lowered patients' glucose levels overall, according to the report. All of the patients were in relatively early stages of type 2 diabetes and had been treated with exercise and diet regimens alone. Oral drugs and insulin injections are often also needed to manage the disease.

The researchers conclude that inhibition of DPP IV is a "feasible approach" to treating the early stages of type 2 diabetes. They add that further research will be needed to look at the long-term effects of such treatment, as well as how it works against more advanced diabetes and in combination with other diabetes drugs.

The drug company Novartis, in Basel, Switzerland, partially funded the study. View this full study and others online at care.diabetesjournals.org.

Source: Reuters Health; American Diabetes Association; Diabetes Care 2002;25:869-875. Publication date: 2002-04-26